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The Sex Pistols, Anarchy in the UK Tour

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The Sex Pistols, Anarchy in the UK Tour

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Exactly 40 years ago the Sex Pistols were due to begin a 19-date UK tour to promote their new single Anarchy in the UK. Today the tour is remembered as a key moment in music history - as much for what didn't happen as for what did. In the furore that followed the band's appearance on TV show Today with Bill Grundy, all but a few of the gigs were cancelled.

The first show was due to be held at the University of East Anglia (UEA) in Norwich on 3 December 1976. Billed as a "A Punk-Rock Evening", tickets cost £1.25 in advance and £1.50 on the door, but collectors would pay many times that for one now. The concert never went ahead: earlier that day, vice-chancellor Dr Frank Thistlethwaite banned it "on the grounds of protecting the safety and security of persons and property".

Two days earlier, the Pistols - lead singer John Lydon (aka Johnny Rotten), guitarist Steve Jones, bassist Glen Matlock and drummer Paul Cook - appeared as late replacements for EMI labelmates Queen on Today, a live London regional TV show. When presenter Bill Grundy contemptuously encouraged them to swear they duly obliged, damaging his career while catapulting themselves to notoriety.

The subsequent national newspaper headlines and ensuing moral panic led venues, under pressure from councils, to cancel gigs by the Sex Pistols, fearing violence, vandalism and who knows what else.

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